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The Flaneur: Traveler’s Lovesong

give me the world
and i will create a world within it
full of unreachable stars.
worlding
never ceases.
it is our irritated way.
in love i long to be alone;
alone i long for love.
in India i long for Indonesia.
on trains
my mind
is sick
for seas;
on mountains: everywhere that is not mountains.
it doesn’t end.
it never ends.
i thumb down a passing truck believing
the driver will illuminate me,
believing, in my son-of-a-trucker’s way,
that the driver might somehow turn out a prophet.
i hop on another train hoping
never to arrive,
only to keep rolling,
up and down the madness,
across the ignorant divisions of territory,
around and around
until I forget i or this ever was.
Then, if i make it to the end of the line,
sell the boots off my feet
for another ticket across the Pacific.

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Expats: The Last Colony

Photo from Frank and Frances Carter Collection.

No shortage of immigrants, refugees and expats scramble for American passports, so when Puerto Rican independence leader Juan Mari Brás renounced his in political protest in 1993, the US State Department was shocked. After a ten-year legal battle he became the first person to receive Puerto Rican citizenship without also having US citizenship:

“I freed myself from the indignity of a false citizenship… that of the country that invaded mine, which continues to keep the only country that I owe allegiance to as a colony.” Continue Reading…

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Somewhere on the Indian Railways

With 7,172 stations and 71,000 miles of track, India has one of the largest rail networks in the world. Roughly 23 million Indians ride these rails each day, from Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the tip of the subcontinent at Kanniyakumari in the south, and from Gujarat’s Naliya in the west to Tinsukia in Assam’s westernmost frontier, and everywhere in between.The Vivek Express from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari, an 83-hour 2655-mile journey, is the longest non-stop route.

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Legends: Intrepid Searchers of Danger

Photo by Laboratorio Enmovimiento.

Local legend on the isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, has it that God entrusted a 14th century Valencian saint with a difficult task: to distribute sacred muxes (pronounced moo-shes) throughout the country from a sack on his back. But when the saint, named Vicente Ferrer, passed through the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, the muxes — a third gender assigned male at birth but who live as women — eagerly tore through the sack and scattered, settling in the region as locals. Today about 3,000 muxes live in Juchitán and are celebrated every November at the Vigil of the Authentic Intrepid Searchers of Danger.

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The Nostalgic Traveler: The Hauntings of Vincent Van Gogh

I went to Auvers-sur-Oise because I wanted to stay on a houseboat, not because of Vincent Van Gogh.

I caught a late morning train from the Gare du Nord in Paris, and in thirty-five minutes, I was in the countryside. The day was overcast and gray and pervaded by the kind of humid cold that sneaks into your boots and chills you. An unexpected snowstorm in Paris had left my feet perpetually frozen, and I’d made several trips to the Decathlon near my apartment to buy thick wool socks.

Walking along the Seine one afternoon, I had seen several houseboats moored in the 16th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower. Wine bottles littered their decks. Ashtrays overflowed with cigarette butts and ashes, wet from the melting snow. Above, the city’s traffic rushed along the river. The boats didn’t look exactly peaceful, but I kept thinking about how they bounced lazily up and down in the current.

The journey by river is a classic heroic quest, undertaken by figures as different as Conrad’s Marlow and Huck Finn. Rivers triumph over our will. We must bend to theirs. They carry us along, to wherever we may be going, and they connect us to the past. They flow though time, linking up disparate moments, forging connections between things that are present and absent.

I wanted to be on a river, but I didn’t really want to go anywhere. I just wanted to watch the river go somewhere. All I had to do was find a houseboat, a boat that played at domesticity. Continue Reading…

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You Are Here: Follow the Leader

One man’s romance with the wilderness has made an entire country fall in love. Kyuyu Fukada, a mountaineer and author often called ‘the man of letters of the mountain’ differs from other literary men who carried notebooks in their hiking packs such as John Muir or Edward Abbey. If this paints a romantic picture of a wool-capped man sitting under a cedar with a notebook on his knee, it should, as Fukada paints this scene himself many times over his travels up Japans peaks. His connection with the land is not only literary and self-reflective but also patriotic and representative of the ties that many Japanese feel to nature. Like many other wilderness enthusiasts of the twentieth century, Fukada encouraged spending time in nature away from society, but in Fukada’s case, Japanese society has followed him to its summits. Continue Reading…

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Somewhere on Film

Till We Meet Again is a project of snapshots documenting the past two years as a transient in the state of California. All the photographs are shot on 35mm film that were processed and scanned in pickup beds, tents, and motel rooms.

 

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The Flaneur: Moto Journals 7 — The Road South

The last in a seven-part series.
Catch up with Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5 and Part 6.

It’s unusual to see a woman riding a motorcycle in this country, much less a heavy Royal Enfield.

During this entire trip, everywhere heads have turned to watch M- ride by. Wherever we wander, she is our ambassador, our interpreter. All I need do is stand behind her, holding my helmet, watching as her charm melts whomever we meet, inspiring them to help us in some way. Continue Reading…

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Expats: Le Tumulte Noir

Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene.

Known as the “Black Pearl” and “Bronze Venus,” Josephine Baker, an African-American vaudeville entertainer, faced racist discrimination throughout her life in the United States but found unbridled success on stages across France and Europe. She even danced nude for integrated audiences during the boom of black American expats in Paris during the 1920s.

“I ran away from St. Louis, and then I ran away from the United States of America, because of that terror of discrimination, that horrible beast which paralyzes one’s very soul and body,” she once said. “I felt liberated in Paris.” Continue Reading…

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What’s Going On In… Antananarivo, Madagascar

Photo by Marco Schmidt.

Spanning several hills lined with steep ancient stairways in Madagascar’s central highlands with a heart-shaped lake and sprawling shanty towns alongside stately French colonial architecture and historic palaces, Antananarivo is a city all its own, and, with inner-city rice paddies and overcrowded markets, not for the faint of heart. Known to the locals simply as Tana, filled with poverty, creative energy, and flowers, Madagascar’s largest city is the thriving hub of unique highland cultures. Continue Reading…

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